English is the study, use, and enjoyment of the English language and literature communicated orally, visually, and in writing, for a range of purposes and audiences and in a variety of text forms. (The New Zealand Curriculum, Ministry of Education (2007), p.18)

How is English structured in the New Zealand Curriculum?

English is structured around two strands, each encompassing the oral, written, and visual forms of the language. The strands differentiate between the modes in which users are primarily:
  • receptive - making meaning of ideas or information they receive (listening, reading, and viewing),
  • productive - creating meaning for themselves or others (speaking, writing, and presenting).

The achievement objectives within each strand suggest the progression of knowledge, skills, and understandings that most students move through as they become more effective oral, written, and visual communicators.

The objectives focus particularly on:

  • texts purposes and audiences.
  • ideas within language contexts.
  • language features that enhance texts.
  • the structure and organisation of texts.

How is English taught at Burnside Primary School?

Our agreed values for learning in English are those outlined in the Values section of our school Curriculum, and modelled in every class every day:

  • We strive to achieve our highest standards by exhibiting effort and determination
  • We acknowledge and value similarities and differences in our school and community.

Our principles of best classroom practice as outlined in the Principles section of the NZ Curriculum underpin our decision making and are evident in all aspects of the delivery of our classroom programmes in the English learning area:

  • A shared positivity and belief that all students can achieve at a high level,
  • Planning that caters for individual needs, including culturally responsive practices,
  • Contexts for learning that are culturally appropriate for Maori,
  • Ensuring culturally responsive practices are evident in our learning spaces and across all programmes,
  • Increasing use of engaging digital technologies,
  • Genuine, timely, and specific feedback and feedforward, both formative and summative.
  • Support programmes including: Reading Recovery, Literacy Lift, Steps, Agility With Sounds, Language Learning Intervention, High Learning Needs, ORS.

How do we plan?

Planning will be based on the English Curriculum Achievement Objectives, guided by Ministry of Education exemplars and matrices.

Teachers will ensure:

  • Collaborative planning, delivery, assessment and moderation to best meet the needs of all children
  • High expectations for all students to become effective communicators in a variety of ways through oral, written and visual literacy.
  • Purposes for learning are identified and shared with the children.
  • Provision of opportunities to literacy knowledge, skills and attitudes purposefully in authentic, meaningful and engaging contexts.
  • Reading, writing, listening and speaking are integrated to meet the demands of the New Zealand Curriculum across the learning areas.
  • Varied formats and approaches used in delivering programmes.

How do we assess?

"The primary purpose of assessment is to improve students' learning and teachers' teaching as both student and teacher respond to the information that it provides." (The New Zealand Curriculum, Ministry of Education (2007), p.39).

Assessment is ongoing and will take these forms:

  • Formative: ongoing systematic feedback to inform future learning. This includes children increasingly monitoring their own learning through reflection.
  • Summative: formal feedback for collation of school-wide data to analyse trends and set goals.


Spelling is a technical skill used to communicate clearly where students rely on both their visual memory of a word and their phonological processing skills. All students will be encouraged to be self-monitoring spellers.

Students will be provided with teaching or reinforcement of phonemic awareness, knowledge of the relationships between sounds and spelling patterns, how words are constructed, common rules and conventions, strategies for proofreading/self-monitoring and spelling unfamiliar words and strategies to help them memorise words visually.

Students will be taught dictionary skills and encouraged to make independent use of the dictionary and thesaurus when proofreading.

Word Lab is used school-wide for teaching and assessment.


We believed that each child should write legibly, fluently, and with sufficient speed for all practical purposes.

We do this through:

  • regular practice
  • teacher role model
  • following the NZ Guidelines outline for examples in Teaching Handwriting, regarding correct letter formation, space, size, slop, joining ligatures and line usage
  • regular monitoring and teacher reinforcement.